HUB Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Story posted September 21, 2015 in News, CommRadio by Hunter Eitel

Comedy sequels are the toughest sequels to get right in the film industry. In some cases, the sequel builds on the good will of its predecessor with a similar sense of humor and succeeds (22 Jump Street, Anchorman 2) or fails miserably (The Hangover Part II, Dumb and Dumber To, Caddyshack II). It can really go either way.

So in May 2015 when Pitch Perfect 2 was released to the public, many people didn’t know what to expect. Apparently, they were happy with what they got because the film opened to the tune of $69.2 million domestically, leading to a $285.2 million worldwide total. Despite those numbers and the massive popularity surrounding the series, I was not one of those people who attributed to the movie’s success.

But when Pitch Perfect 2 came to Freeman Auditorium on Thursday night, I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. To my surprise the whole auditorium was on the brink of capacity, which gave me a boost of confidence that the movie would be something I might enjoy.
One hour and 45 minutes later, I emerged from the darkened hall, with only one question on my mind: What do people see in this?

What do people see in Pitch Perfect 2, a sporadically funny and occasionally entertaining film that has plenty of singing one could imagine from a movie like this, yet feels far longer than it actually should, with no memorable characters, surprisingly bitter stereotypes, and even moments of mean spirited humor that are supposed to taken lightly.

In the second installment, Becca (Anna Kendrick) and the rest of the Barden Bellas are banned from A-cappella after an unfortunate incident involving Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) flashing the President. To get their groove back, the Bellas plan to enter a worldwide competition to get their good namesake back.

While that is the plotline shown in the trailers, in reality, which only covers about half the movie. The rest is just filler stuffed in to accredit a long enough run time to make this a theatrical release instead of the straight to Redbox exclusive that was probably what was intended originally.

With all of that said, there are definitely some enjoyable elements to Pitch Perfect 2. Anna Kendrick is fine as Becca, having serious singing and sometimes comedic chops. Some of the A cappella is really impressive, particularly a performance the Bellas have at the very end of the film as well as a competition featuring members of the Green Bay Packers. But the best part of the movie is Penn State alum Keegan-Michael Key as Becca’s boss at her internship. Using the wit and screaming he is known for on his television show Key and Peele, Key owns just about every scene he’s in, constantly creating humor even when it doesn’t call for it.

While Kendrick and Key shine, the rest of the cast really gets left in the dust. Even with Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld joining the rest of the Bellas, they are all around forgettable. I can only remember four of them by name. The rest I only remember by their stereotypes (The weird one, the Spanish one, the sexual one, the gay one) or I don’t remember their names at all because the movie expects me to know them since it’s a sequel and their names are mentioned briefly in the beginning of the film.

None of that is on the actresses though, because to me, it seemed like the writing team got together and decided the aspect they should play up the most is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. I don’t know how big of a role she had in the original film, but in Pitch Perfect 2 she is on screen far too often. She gets a few laughs, but she is using the same shtick she has been using since her Hollywood debut in 2007’s trash-heap Ghost Rider. A constant flow of fat jokes that are only used because she is making fun of herself, so that makes it okay. While Wilson is funny in moderation, this much screen time demotes her comedy to a level of annoyance, and you just wish she’d get off the screen.

The comedy from time to time comes off as unnecessarily mean spirited in a movie that is clearly directed towards younger women. At one point, John Michael Higgin’s character refers to the Bellas as “An inspiration to all girls who are too ugly to be cheerleaders.” The humor jumps from childish, to occasionally witty, to flat out mean in the blink of an eye, which really falls on director Elizabeth Banks in her directorial debut. Banks packs different kinds of humor and far too many storylines into an hour and 45 minute movie. With all of that bunched together in not enough of a runtime, the movie actually felt like it was well over 2 hours.

I understand comedy is the most subjective form of film. Some people may have found Hot Pursuit hilarious while they may have hated Spy. I get that. I just don’t get the hype surrounding the Pitch Perfect films. I’m certain fans of the original will love it, but in the end it’s a studio demanded cash-grab that is trying to leech life off of a successful predecessor that will inevitably lead to a third film.

Hunter Eitel is a freshman majoring in print journalism. To reach him, contact him at hbe5018@psu.edu.